In Sweden, the public health is generally good but there are substantial problems with social inequalities in health. For example in my town, Gothenburg, the life expectancy is nine years longer in the area with the highest average income than in the area with the lowest. These differences are both caused by personal lifestyles and living habits, and also more complex, structural causes such as economic and social conditions and discrimination. One more vulnerable group is people born outside of Sweden, studies show that they have a higher mortality than people born in Sweden and rate their own health as poorer. Since immigrants come from different cultures and countries, it can be hard to know how the Swedish health care system works. We’ve seen that the need for health education exists and have developed a project to respond to this.
The idea of LIVH is that medical and health care students visit Swedish classes for immigrants (called SFI) to talk about the Swedish health care system, health, common diseases, STIs and contraceptives. The SFI Swedish schools contact the local contact person who assembles a team of 2-3 students for a certain date and school where they have a class with students who have studied Swedish for a few months to years. We speak simple Swedish and try to be as interactive as possible, mixing a lecture with group discussions and exercises. Holding a LIVH session is truly a stimulating challenge where everyone in the room always learn something new! We have a script and PowerPoint presentation, which is based on a national framework but locally adapted. The session also includes time for evaluation.
Another aim of the project is to educate future health care professionals and prepare us to successfully communicate with our patients and advocate for their rights. This is crucial in order for us to engage in the struggle for equal access to health care after graduation, a central ambition within SCORP Sweden. Therefore, all volunteers have gone through a workshop were we talk about common diseases and STI/HIV, how the Swedish health care system is organized and also how to communicate over cultural and language barriers. This year, we will have our fourth national training for the LIVH-volunteers, discussing the same topics over a weekend (Note: the major SCORP event of the year).
So far we have had a very good response. The majority of the SFI-students and their teachers have been pleased with the workshop. They feel like they have a better understanding of how the Swedish health care system works, and what rights and obligations they have as patients. They also point out that they have an improved vocabulary after our sessions and therefore know how to better voice their concerns when seeking medical help. We now hope to continue to grow and contribute to a more equal health in Sweden.
The evaluation is done through a questionnaire to SFI-students and another to the healthcare students.
Area of Activity
Migrants’ Health and Rights
Educate future health care professionals and prepare us to successfully communicate with our patients and advocate for their rights.
Time frame of the Activity
Not affiliated with any IFMSA Program.
Rebecka Assarsson – [email protected]